JetBlue and CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Phoenix face a class action over their claim that students who complete the JetBlue Gateway Select program can become competent pilots and be hired by the airline.
JetBlue and CAE Oxford Aviation Academy Phoenix face a proposed class action over their apparent claims that students who complete the JetBlue Gateway Select program can become competent pilots and be hired by the airline.
The 23-page lawsuit contends that in reality, JetBlue and CAE have failed to provide the instruction they promised through the program, and students who participate in the training either “consistently flunk out” or are placed on “flight training review” prior to graduation and effectively ushered out of the pricey program “without any meaningful recourse.”
Worse, the suit says, the defendants charge roughly $100,000 for the JetBlue Gateway Select program, supposedly “far and above what the average flight school charges,” based on their false representations.
According to the filing, other purported pilot training programs offered by CAE, a flight simulation technology manufacturer, in conjunction with other airlines, including Southwest and American Airlines, are similarly misrepresented.
The case relays that CAE uniformly represents that its pilot training programs are designed to train pilots from zero experience to the levels at which they can obtain a commercial pilot license (CPL), airline transport pilot license (ATPL) or multi-crew pilot license (MPL). Among other representations, CAE tells students that they should enroll in the program due to the company’s “keep current and aftercare” offerings, which help a would-be pilot maintain their license and/or rating validity in order to stay ready for their first airline job, the lawsuit says.
With regard to the JetBlue Gateway Select program, CAE advertises the course as an intensive, multi-phase program divided between JetBlue University in Orlando and CAE’s Mesa, Arizona flight academy. According to the filing, the program is designed to take a future pilot from zero qualifications to being flight desk-ready in three to four years, including meeting the Federal Aviation Administration’s 1,500 flight-hour requirement. In total, JetBlue cadets spend 42 weeks at CAE throughout the program, the case says.
Importantly, the defendants maintain that the program will allow an applicant to learn with JetBlue from the beginning and become a pilot with the airline, the complaint relays.
The suit alleges that for the plaintiff and other students, the defendants “did not live up to their representations.”
According to the complaint, the plaintiff enrolled in the JetBlue Gateway Select program along with 17 other students in October 2020 for an approximate cost of $100,000 in tuition and fees. As the lawsuit tells it, there were problems “[f]rom the moment Plaintiff began the [program].” These issues, according to the suit, included:
An unannounced “overhaul” of the plaintiff’s first-year syllabus that cut the hours of instruction from 250 to 170, far fewer than what students paid for;
Significant portions of the program being provided online, including the foundation course that was supposed to be provided in Orlando, and much of the ground school program that was to be provided in Mesa;
Instruction at the ground school that was “not as Defendants represented,” and instead included “watching YouTube videos” and reading a free pilot handbook;
Instruction that students, in place of actually being taught material, were to buy a supplement to pass written exams that consisted of “simply memorizing the right answer to a question”; and
The placement of the plaintiff and other students on “flight training review” without being told and without a clear set of standards.
With regard to the flight training review issue, the plaintiff contests that neither he nor other students knew that they were in danger of failing out of the program until it was too late.
“None of these aspects were represented to Plaintiff and Class Members at the time of contracting for the [Program] in October 2020,” the suit alleges. “Instead, Defendants made these changes on the fly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The complaint argues that although the defendants claim that later versions of their syllabus meet FAA requirements for online delivery, “this was not the case with Plaintiff and Class Members’ education.” Further, although the defendants reserved the right to alter the content of the pilot training course, they were prohibited from doing so if the changes stood in the way of students “attaining the standard advertised as attainable,” the suit contends.
According to the lawsuit, approximately 30 to 40 percent of the plaintiff’s class failed out of JetBlue and CAE’s pilot program “due to Defendants’ failure to provide instruction consistent with [their] representations.” In the class that graduated after the plaintiff’s, 20 of 26 students were placed on flight training review prior to graduation, meaning they were “slowly being ushered out the door,” the case alleges.
Per the filing, the JetBlue flight lead at the time the plaintiff attended the program messaged his class and stated that the way the “ground school is being conducted  is not the intended curriculum and is unacceptable.”
The lawsuit looks to represent all individuals who enrolled in a flight training program with CAE from October 2020 through the present and paid tuition for the program.
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